Closing Thoughts: Ritual Labour, Real Fruits
In a country where large pilgrimages are neither new nor uncommon there is considerable consensus about why and how pilgrimages are done. But certain elements mark out the Kanwar pilgrimage of Bihar, Jharkhand and Nepal, and it is these that I have especially tried to understand. As a popular 1 pilgrimage, the Kanwar yatra has the essential elements of folk religion, 2 which as Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer (1995: 129) points out, ‘does not describe or name itself, yet as a structure of religious consciousness it can be empirically identified’. It is in its performance that we must look for its meaning.